“You don’t trust Joe to take care of me?”
“Not if Joe is to be out all day. There will be nobody to trot up and down stairs for you. Come, it is only what she begs for herself, and she really is perfectly well.”
“As if I could have a child victimised to me,” said granny.
“The little Cockney thinks the victimising would be in going to the deserts with only the boys and me,” laughed Carey; “But I think a week later will be quite time enough to sweep the cobwebs out of her brain.”
“And you can do without her?” inquired Mrs. Brownlow. “You don’t want her to help to keep the boys in order?”
“Thank you, I can do that better without her,” said Carey. “She exasperates them sometimes.”
“I believe granny is thinking whether she is not wanted to keep Mother Carey in order as well as her chickens. Hasn’t mother been taken for your governess, Carey?”
“No, no, Joe, that’s too bad. They asked Janet at the dancing-school whether her sister was not going to join.”
“Her younger sister?”
“No, I tell you, her half-sister. But Clara Acton will do discretion for us, granny; and I promise you we won’t do anything her husband says is very desperate! Don’t be afraid.”
“No,” said grandmamma, smiling as she kissed her daughter-in-law, and rose to take her candle; “I am never afraid of anything a mother can share with her boys.”
“Even if she is nearly a tomboy herself,” laughed the husband, with rather a teasing air, towards his little wife. “Good night, mother. Shall not we be snug with nobody left but Janet, who might be great-grandmother to us both?”
“I really am glad that Janet should stay with granny,” said Carey, when he had shut the door behind the old lady; “she would be left alone so many hours while you are out, and she does need more waiting on than she used to do.”
“You think so? I never see her grow older.”
“Not in the least older in mind or spirits; but she is not so strong, nor so willing to exert herself, and she falls asleep more in the afternoon. One reason for which I am less sorry to go on before, is that I shall be able to judge whether the rooms are comfortable enough for her, and I suppose we may change if they are not.”
“To another place, if you think best.”
“Only you will not let her stay at home altogether. That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“She will only do so on the penalty of keeping me, and you may trust her not to do that,” said Joe, laughing with the confidence of an only son.
“I shall come back and fetch you if you don’t appear under a fortnight. Did you do any more this morning to the great experiment, Magnum Bonum?”
She spoke the words in a proud, shy, exulting semi-whisper, somewhat as Gutenberg’s wife might have asked after his printing-press.
“No. I haven’t had half an hour to myself to-day; at least when I could have attended to it. Don’t be afraid, Carey, I’m not daunted by the doubts of our good friends. I see your eyes reproaching me with that.”